Going to the cinema can be a great communal activity, but cost, hassle and a busy schedule can distract you from your enjoyment. With more content available than ever before, either on disc or via streaming, staying home can often seem the best option. You also get to spend time with the whole family without having to buy extortionate tickets, or have friends over for a screening of your favourite flicks without worrying about bothering other movie-goers.
Read on at OneHowTo to find out the best ways to make the silver screen magic come into your own home.
Television or Projector?
Watching your favourite shows and movies at home has been commonly done on a TV since the 1940's. As advanced technologies develop, we find that once prohibitively expensive options are now much more readily available. Let's compare the pros and cons for TV's and projectors to find out which is best for your home movie theater:
Perhaps the greatest advantage of a TV for your home movie theater is that it is, in general, much cheaper than a projector. It is also easier to install and doesn't require changing the lighting of the room. Smart TV's allow you to connect to the internet or hook up a gadget (Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast) to stream online content through your WiFi connection. They also come with built-in DVD players, so that if you still have your DVD or Blu-Ray collections you can watch without having to add extra devices.
New developments in TV technology also make them an appealing option. Curved screens have the advantage of making it easier to view wherever you are in the room and since 4K resolution was introduced in 2014, more and more content is able to be viewed with a clarity like never before.
As large as TV screens have become, there is no comparison in size when we introduce a projector. The largest TV's are still not going to be able to fill up a wall like a projector and will make your home movie theater more like the real thing. TV's also emit light, whereas projectors only reflect it. This makes the viewing easier on the eye and can give you a greater depth and quality of picture. Although they can be very expensive at the high end, more affordable options are becoming available as the market expands.
The benefits, however, need to be waged against the drawbacks. Although you can project directly onto a wall, experts will say this is a waste of your investment. A screen should be installed which can cost extra money and finding room for it might be difficult. Also, you will need the right place to put your projector which may involve further installing a shelf or bracket. Lastly, as content can't be played directly through the projector, you need to make sure you don't trip on wires leading to the rest of your home movie theater system.
Even with these hindrances mentioned in our comparison, there is nothing closer to cinema quality than a projector. But to get it closer to the movie theater experience, you will also need to keep out as much light as possible. Cinemas have the benefit of having no windows, so you need to keep yours covered. A heavily lined curtain will likely keep out the most light, but light excluding blinds can be bought relatively cheap and they allow you to better control the amount of light in the room. Dimmer switches and strategically placed light sources will also add to the home movie theater atmosphere.
Although movie theaters don't have windows, you can often see curtains lining the walls of a screen. This is to keep noise pollution to a minimum as it both stops sound coming in and absorbs the ambient sound of the room. To mimic this in your home movie theater, try to choose a room which has carpet rather than hardwood floors or linoleum. If you want to go the extra mile, installing fiberglass ceiling tiles absorbs more sound, but make sure it doesn't ruin the aesthetic of your room.
More important for good sound quality are the speakers. This is another reason why TV's have the advantage as projectors will only have low-quality speakers, if any at all. However, serious sound quality at home requires a good set of speakers. A surround sound system gives you the most comprable theatre quality. These generally consist of a centre speaker above or below the TV or screen, main side speakers to the left and right of where you watch, smaller surround speakers behind where you sit and a subwoofer to make sure you make the most of low-end frequencies. These can be bought in a set, but you can often get a great deal by mixing and matching second hand speakers.
Also remember, the bigger the room the bigger the speakers.
Big theater chains want to have as many seats as possible in order to sell tickets, but this is one great benefit of having your own home movie theater. A sofa is great as, depending on its size, the whole family can enjoy together. If you're fortunate enough to have an entire room dedicated to your home theater system, perhaps reclining chairs or some other individual lounge chair will work best. Comfort is important, but a straighter back will help keep you focused.
As we have made the most of our sensory experience in sight, sound and feel, we can cap it all off with some tasty treats. Just the smell of popped corn brings back the memory of movie theaters and the joy of watching a film on the big screen. Home popcorn makers are extensively available and can be great fun especially if you have kids. Your own home movie theater concession stand is easy to make with some spare shelves and going on a big candy run. It's you home of course, so whatever your favourite snacks are, they're only a stone's throw away in the kitchen.
A home theater system is a worthwhile investment for all who love movies, sport and TV. We hope these tips will get you on your way to making your big screen dreams come true!
To help you get even more out of your experience, check out our tips on How to Clean an LCD/LED TV or Computer Screen and How to Choose Television Furniture.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Turn Your Home into a Movie Theater, we recommend you visit our Electronics category.